Showtime aired its final episode of The Franchise Wednesday night and wrapped up a season of disappointment for the Marlins by giving us the voices of the players still around as well as a frustrated front office, which promised that there's not only enough talent still around to win next year, but expectations for 2013 should be high.
Owner Jeffrey Loria, filmed inside an empty Marlins Park after the team wrapped up their most recent home series against the Phillies by being shutout in three straight games and setting a new franchise-low with 30 consecutive scoreless innings, said he "realized early on it was broke and it had to be fixed."
"It's not happening this year, but we have an enormously successful core of young players, a new young catcher in [Rob] Brantly. I have very high hopes."
General manager Mike Hill said much of what we already knew -- that the Marlins simply didn't get enough out of Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison and Hanley Ramirez and that pitchers felt "like they had to be perfect."
Players echoed those sentiments.
"Almost everybody underachieved to some degree," catcher John Buck said. "We just didn't do what we were capable of doing and that's kind of all we had to do, which is what sort of made it so deflating."
Said pitcher Carlos Zambrano: "You can have the best coaching staff and the best players, but if we don't play good nothing will help us. It's our fault."
President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest weighed in with: "We put expectations on ourselves we thought were realistic and unfortunately they weren't realistic because we didn't even come close."
But Beinfest then said: "There's a lot of good pieces, a lot things to build around. There's still a lot of talent here."
Of course, Beinfest and Hill may not be here next year to see that "talent."
> The biggest question on Marlins fans' minds -- if the team will spend money this off-season to upgrade -- remained unanswered.
The closest we got was this from president David Samson: "We need to let our fans know we care about winning as much as they do and we're going to keep trying as hard as they would want us to try."
And this line from Loria: "We are always striving to be winners."
> The rest of the episode centered on the arrival of Brantly, the role of pinch hitter Greg Dobbs (who ended the team's 30 inning scoreless streak), and new closer Steve Cishek, who went around people asking if they had ever heard of Steve Cishek.
At one point, Samson tells Brantly inside the Marlins clubhouse cafeteria: "We were talking about this trade and the owner is on the phone and you should just know -- it's no pressure -- he said 'We will not make this trade unless we get this kid Brantly.'... So you were wanted. That's a positive."
Brantly's response: "I'm honored."
> Manager Ozzie Guillen tells Showtime the toughest part of the season for him wasn't the June swoon or the dismantling of his team at the trade deadline. Nope, it was the embarrassment he suffered from his Fidel Castro comments.
"It was something I was accused and people were pointing at my face like I was a criminal when deep in my heart I know exactly what I say, when I say it and how I say it. Some people [took] advantage," Guillen said. "That's what hurt more than anything."
Guillen closes out the episode by saying the Marlins "have to make Miami a baseball town."
"It's going to be a lot of work," Guillen said. "But if they think they worked last year. I think this year is going to be harder."
> Heath Bell actually has one of the last lines in the episode and it's one that ought to get you fired up if you can forget what kind of season he had after signing a 3-year, $27 million deal.
"There's a lot of talent here. These young guys want to play and they want to win," Bell said. "Once we gel and come together we're going to be a force to be reckoned with."